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Voltaren Cream for Back Ache

By Sirah Dubois ; Updated August 14, 2017

Back aches affect nearly everyone at some stage in their lives and have a variety of causes, most of which are benign and self-limiting, but some of which are indications of serious pathology. For low back pain that is musculoskeletal in nature, short-term application of pain relieving creams and gels can be helpful in controlling inflammation and pain. Voltaren Emulgel is a more of a gel than a cream containing anti-inflammatory compounds. Consult with your doctor about the cause of your back ache and if using Voltaren gel is safe and appropriate.

Causes of Back Ache

Your low back is susceptible to a variety of problems because of all the structures that are in close proximity and the amount of force that the area is subjected to. Sitting, walking, running and jumping all subject your low back to compression and torsion, which occasionally causes an injury to the joints, discs, ligaments, nerves, tendons or muscles that comprise your spine. Muscle strains tend to cause achy pain, whereas joint misalignment, nerve impingement or ligament sprains tend to cause sharp and stabbing pain, according to the book “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach.” Muscle strains are usually self-limiting and may benefit from the application of anti-inflammatory gels and creams. Arthritis of the spinal joints can also cause achy pain, but topical gels and creams may not be strong enough or absorb deep enough to alleviate the discomfort.

Voltaren Emulgel

Voltaren Emulgel is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a topical gel for the treatment of osteoarthritis joint pain and inflammation, according to the “PDR Guide to Drug Interactions, Side Effects and Indications.” The gel contains a 1 percent solution of diclofenac sodium, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. Voltaren also makes pills that contain the same compound, albeit in higher concentration. In addition to osteoarthritis, Voltaren gel is commonly recommended for inflammation of soft tissues, bursitis and a variety of sports injuries.


Taking oral NSAIDs for back aches or other sources of inflammatory pain can lead to many side effects, such as stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal irritation and potential heart, kidney or liver problems, according to the book “Human Biochemistry.” As such, applying a topical NSAID gel to a specific location prevents much of the risk of oral NSAIDs. Voltaren gel is especially convenient if your back ache is caused by muscles or small joints close to the skin's surface, because it can readily reach those areas via absorption. Further, if you are older than 65 with a history of stomach, heart or liver issues, you may not be able to take oral NSAIDs of any kind. Under your doctor’s supervision, Voltaren Emulgel can typically be applied up to three times daily.


Voltaren Emulgel may not be a good option if you are already taking oral NSAIDs for your back ache, because the diclofenac sodium within the gel gets into your bloodstream where it may interact with other drugs. Further, if your back ache is caused by widespread spinal arthritis, then taking oral NSAIDs instead of applying the gel may be more effective and economical. Voltaren gel is only for external use and should not be applied to open wounds or mucus membranes. Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects of Voltaren gel.

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